Story filed by Miriam Verburg
At a media event to mark the official launch of the PokerStars APPT tournament, President Jeffrey Haas, sharing a panel with Director of Marketing for PokerStars Asia Pacific, Sarne Lightman, and Team Poker Stars players Joe Hachem, Vanessa Rousso and Daniel Negreanu introduced, “modern international poker tournaments to Asia.”
As Haas pointed out ‘spectacular’ Asian players have been very successful on the North American and European scene for years, and now local tournament players improve their game and experience the benefits of a professional-caliber tournament close to home.
The Philippines is taking the lead in making a home for Poker in Asia with executives from The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) making every effort to establish that the APPT in Manila runs smoothly. Manila is only the first stop on this groundbreaking tour that will hold events in Seoul and Sydney. Haas mentioned that there are plans to add as many as another 2 venues to this year’s tour and 8 stops for the 2008 season.
Originally planned to cap at 250 players, an additional 100 seats have been added, raising the cap to 350, due to the high local demand and popular satellite events online over the past month.
One local online qualifier Philip Chua attended the press conference. A 34-year old Manila-based businessman, he started playing online poker 2.5 years ago and qualified by winning the East-Asia Freeroll event last week. Says Chau of poker as a strategy sport: “You’re not playing against the house, it’s strategy with your mind and it’s with other people, so it’s more social.” He has high hopes for the sport’s continued emergence in Asia.
Lightman pointed out that the adventure isn’t just for locals, as over 70 qualifiers from 25 countries have made their way to Manila after qualifying in PokerStars satellites.
Team PokerStars Vanessa Rousso and Joe Hachem were happy to be in Manila and ready to start play tomorrow. For once Hachem’s jet- lag was less than his North American counterparts, another perk for all players in the region, of the APPT’s arrival in Asia.